L. David Mech

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L. David Mech
David Mech 2017.jpg
Born (1937-01-18) 18 January 1937 (age 85)
Auburn, New York, United States[1]
NationalityAmerican
Alma materCornell University,
Purdue University
Known forWolf ecology and behavior research
Scientific career
FieldsBiology, Ecology
InstitutionsUniversity of Minnesota,
U.S. Geological Survey
WebsiteBusiness website: http://www.davemech.org Personal website: http://www.davemech.com

Lucyan David Mech (/m/;[2] born January 18, 1937), also known as Dave Mech, is an American biologist specializing in the study of wolves. He is a senior research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. He has researched wolves since 1958 in locations including northern Minnesota, Isle Royale, Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, Ellesmere Island, and Italy.

Mech is the founder of the International Wolf Center and is the vice-chair of its board of directors. The project to create the facility, which he started in 1985, was a natural outgrowth of his wolf research as well as his ambition to educate people about the nature of wolves that they may come to respect the creature through understanding.

He has published eleven books about wolves and other wildlife, including The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species (1970, University of Minnesota Press) and Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation which he co-edited with Luigi Boitani (2003, University of Chicago Press). Both books remain in print as of 2017. The 1997 book The Arctic Wolf: Ten Years with the Pack received an Honorable Mention by the National Outdoor Book Award (Nature and the Environment category). His latest book with Doug Smith and Dan MacNulty is Wolves on the Hunt: the Behavior of Wolves Hunting Wild Prey.

Early years[edit]

Mech was born in Auburn, New York, and raised in Syracuse.[3]

Career and research[edit]

1966 photo by David Mech Wolves holding moose at bay at Isle Royale

Mech obtained a B.S. degree in conservation from Cornell University in 1958.[3] and a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from Purdue University in 1962.[3] From 1958 to 1962 Mech was a graduate student at Purdue University studying the wolves of Isle Royale in Lake Superior.[4] His first book was The Wolves of Isle Royale, published in 1966 by the Department of the Interior, having evolved from his doctoral thesis.[4] In 1966 he went to study wolves in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota.[4]

L. David Mech studying Arctic wolves

"Beginning in 1986, the legendary biologist L. David Mech spent 25 summers observing wolves..."[5] on Ellesmere Island. Mech said that his research on the wolves at Ellesmere Island was different because it is one of the few places where the wolves are not afraid of people, making that experience one of the best in his life.[6] This project in 1986 when photographer Jim Brandenburg told him of white wolves he had seen on Ellesmere Island during an assignment for National Geographic.[4] Mech recognized the rare opportunity to study wolves that had never been hunted and had little fear of humans. Also there were no trees or bushes to hide them from view in the tundra. In the summer Mech found the den near the military and weather base at Eureka. They witnessed the interactions within the pack and the wolves hunting musk oxen. This type of research had not been done before. In an interview Mech said "The kind of stuff I got here was not just the objective behavioral stuff, but the kind of thing you get from living with a pet of some sort. You get an insight into the thing. You get to know the animal."[4] Mech and Brandenburg together produced several articles and a film for National Geographic.[4]

Positions on hunting, fishing and trapping and wolf management[edit]

An avid mushroom hunter and fur trapper, Mech has continued to support fishing, hunting, and trapping, which has led to criticism from animal protectionists. He believes that states can manage wolves sustainably, and that states where the wolf were no longer on the endangered list should determine how wolves should be managed in their state.[7][8] On his website, he lists mink trapping as one of his interests.[9] He closed the abstract to "Is science in danger of sanctifying the wolf?" published in the January 2012 issue of Biological Conservation with "The wolf is neither a saint nor a sinner except to those who want to make it so."[10]

Publication[edit]

David Mech with a wolf tranquilized in order to fit a GPS tracking device

Mech's first book was published in 1966 and has written eleven published books.[11] He has published approximately 380 scientific papers and 100 popular articles about wolves and other wildlife including The Wolf: The Ecology and Behavior of an Endangered Species (1970, University of Minnesota Press) and Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation which he co-edited with Luigi Boitani (2003, University of Chicago Press). Both books remain in print as of 2017. The 1997 book The Arctic Wolf: Ten Years with the Pack received an Honorable Mention by the National Outdoor Book Award (Nature and the Environment category). His latest book with Doug Smith and Dan MacNulty is Wolves on the Hunt: the Behavior of Wolves Hunting Wild Prey. The International Wolf Center lists approximately 140 articles written by Mech published during the period of 1987 to the present, primarily in scientific journals.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://davemech.org/wp-content/uploads/dave_mech_cv.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  2. ^ Meech, L. David. "Dave Mech". Retrieved July 14, 2020. pronounced 'Meech'
  3. ^ a b c https://news.uns.purdue.edu/html3month/2005/05Hondocs/05.MECH.html 2005 Honorary degree Retrieved July 3, 2018
  4. ^ a b c d e f The Far Reach: The lifework of a Minnesota biologist circles the world by Greg Breining Pages 32-41 Minnesota Department of Resources Conservation Volunteer Magazine. January–February 2004
  5. ^ Alone with wolves by Neil Shea National Geographic Magazine September 2019 issue Pages 117 - 133
  6. ^ Dave Mech film "Dave Mech" film by Conservation Minnesota Copyright 2009.
  7. ^ David Mech's position on wolf management by David Mech
  8. ^ ' "Science is self correcting" - on Wolves' by Ban Nock Retrieved February 16th., 2017
  9. ^ Webpage of L. David Mech
  10. ^ Is science in danger of sanctifying the wolf? by L. David Mech Januuar 12012 issue of 'Biological Conservation' Retrieved February 16, 2017
  11. ^ books list page of Mech web site
  12. ^ Wolf Center listing of published articles by David Mech retrieved February 15th 2017

External links[edit]